GOA Responds to Issues Raised by Semi-Supporters of the Anti-gun SB 244

Recently, we alerted you to the New Hampshire anti-gun bill which poses the greatest threat of actually moving in 2014.

We asked you to testify against Senate Bill 244 on Tuesday morning, at 9:00 a.m., at the State House.  Our previous alert can be read here.

Other gun groups have joined us to oppose this legislation as well.

But one group has issued a statement which we will charitably characterize as an “On one hand…on the other hand” analysis. There are a number of points in this analysis which we need to address.  Please forgive us if this gets a little technical.

We agree with the group that “on the surface this is a terrible bill.”  But some of the other points are misleading and need to be dealt with:

MISLEADING POINT #1: “[SB 244] does not create disqualifiers…”

RESPONSE: There are millions of American gun owners who could potentially lose their gun rights under the ATF’s expansive interpretation of 18 U.S.C. 922(g) and the NICS Improvement Act of 2008, contained at 27 CFR 478.11 and 27 CFR 478.32.

Let’s start with everyone with Alzheimer’s.  Our General Counsel’s 88-year-old mother had Alzheimer’s and had a guardian appointed under RSA 464-A in a “star chamber proceeding.”  Under SB 244, she would have automatically had her gun rights stripped without any due process — and had her name sent to the FBI gun-ban blacklist.

And, while no one has been able to identify any “danger of gun violence” posed by people with Alzheimer’s, many of them do have very large and valuable gun collections which they would like to pass on to their children.

Similarly, under the emergency provisions of RSA 135C, an individual being treated by a private psychiatrist can be committed, on an emergency basis, as a result of a subjective diagnosis with no due process whatsoever.  Such an individual, if he had any remaining gun rights, would presumably automatically have those gun rights taken away.  And, yes, the involuntary commitment standard contained at RSA 135C:34, which is explicitly incorporated by SB 244, is applicable to an involuntary commitment without a court order under RSA 135C-27.(1)

That ATF’s unconstitutional and non-statutory interpretation of federal law would currently allow some of this in theory does not diminish the fact that SB 244 would, for the first time, mandate it in practice.

One final point:  Gun Owners of America is working to overturn or defund any effort by the Obama administration to partially repeal federal health privacy laws (HIPAA).  This last thing we need is for New Hampshire to repeal HIPAA by fiat.

MISLEADING POINT #2: Unless SB 244 is passed, a “buyer is now subject to ten years in prison [for purchasing a gun, even if he is not in NICS], and the FFL can lose his license.”

This has been scaled back from an earlier allegation that the FFL could be imprisoned — an allegation that is false because of language added by our General Counsel as part of 1986 McClure-Volkmer law.

RESPONSE: First of all, under McClure-Volkmer (18 U.S.C. 924(a)(2)), a prohibited person transaction is not criminal unless committed “knowingly.”

Second, a person does not become a prohibited person under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4) unless he is “adjudicated” or “committed.”

So a person is not currently subject to a gun ban because he has Alzheimer’s, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.  He is not a prohibited person because he arrives unconscious at a hospital and the hospital appoints a guardian.  And because a commitment under RSA 135C can be made, in certain emergency cases, by a private psychiatrist, he is not a prohibited person because he is committed under this provision.  In fact, it is unlawful to send RSA 135C names to NICS if only a private psychiatrist is involved.

Rather, these individuals become prohibited persons because SB 244 makes them so.  Thus, in the absence of SB 244, many people with RSA 464-A guardians and persons with private RSA 135C commitments can say on the 4473 — and, in fact, MUST say — that the answer is “no” when asked if they have ever been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution.

MISLEADING POINT #3: “SB 244 creates, for the first time, a relief mechanism…”

RESPONSE:  We went through this sham with the “relief” provisions of the Veterans Disarmament Act (AKA the NICS Improvement Act of 2008).  It turns out that the biggest pro-gun lawyer in New Hampshire would charge a MINIMUM of $10,000 for the restoration of rights.

Veterans can’t afford this.  And the people who would be victimized by SB 244 can’t afford this.  This procedure is MEANINGLESS.

MISLEADING POINT #4: If we don’t pass gun control, we’ll get even worse gun control.

RESPONSE: This is delusional.  Every time gun groups have tried to buy off anti-gun groups by passing “gun control lite,” it (1) strengthened the anti-gun movement, (2) dispirited the pro-gun movement, and (3) served as nothing but a platform for the next demand for gun control, which frequently came immediately after our capitulation.

When we defeated every single word of gun control, as we did after Columbine, the result was a decade of relative peace for our movement — and a perceived strength which allowed us to do things like repeal the semi-auto ban.


Finally, some parties are trying to float a sell-out amendment to try to fool legislators into supporting this bill.

The sell-out amendment makes tiny changes in the procedure for restoring the rights which this bill unconstitutionally takes from you.

But the sell-out amendment does not:

* Reverse provisions in this bill which could strip tens of thousands of Granite Staters of their constitutional rights without any due process whatsoever;

* Nor does it reverse the provisions in this bill which allow a psychiatrist to strip you of your gun rights without an order from any court — but rather, strips you of your rights based on a subjective assessment.

The sell-out amendment is an insult to pro-gun advocates in New Hampshire, and needs to be opposed at all costs.

ACTION: As we encouraged you a few days ago, please show up at the State House on Tuesday, January 14, at 9:00 am.  And sign up to testify against Senate Bill 244.

You can see our previous alert — at http://www.gunowners.org/state1112014.htm — to get the address of the state house, plus email addresses and phone numbers for members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.



(1) An RSA 135C:27 commitment can be made by a private psychiatrist without a court order.  Although you don’t have to go through RSA 135C:34-45 procedures anew in order to commit a person without due process under RSA 135C:27, you have to have gone through them at some point in the past.  Therefore, it is our fear that a commitment without due process by a private psychiatrist under RSA 135C:27 would be interpreted to be “pursuant to RSA 135C-34-45.”  This means that your guns could be taken away under this provision with no due process.”